Finn, Grief, Infant Loss, Stillbirth

Two years after we initially started trying, we wondered if we would ever be able to have a second child. In June 2015, we went on vacation to the Smoky mountains and visited Dollywood. After riding a triple inversion roller coaster, I felt very off, which was unusual for me because I usually handle roller coasters very well. The next day I took a test and was thrilled to see two lines — I was finally pregnant with our second child! My pregnancy progressed smoothly and uneventfully, and our 18-week sonogram revealed a healthy baby who danced his little legs around and showed off for us. We learned our baby was a boy. Over the next few months, we painted his room and re-assembled the crib. As his due date of February 27th drew closer, I unpacked the baby gear and folded the newborn clothes neatly in his closet, including a couple of “Little Brother” sleepers I had picked out just for him. I packed a hospital bag with a newborn-sized coming home outfit. I unpacked and washed the infant car seat and ordered diapers online. We were so ready and excited to meet our baby!

On the morning of January 23rd, I didn’t wake up until it was almost time to leave for my hair appointment. I was exhausted as I had been fighting a cold and sinus infection all week. It didn’t seem like my baby had been very active that morning, but then again I hadn’t been awake very long and thought I might have just missed his activity. He was usually most active at night around bedtime. I had an anterior placenta, so it was often difficult to notice his movements unless I was paying attention. I didn’t feel him as distinctly as I had with my first child, Jaxton.

After my hair appointment, I still wasn’t feeling much, so I went home determined to monitor his movements. At home I glided the home doppler over my belly. Immediately, the sound of his strong heartbeat met my ears and I relaxed a bit. Maybe he was just having a slow day or in a different position than usual. Lying on my side in bed, I attempted to count his movements. I tried shaking my belly to get a reaction. I was getting barely anything. I decided to go eat and drink some sugary juice to see if that would perk him up. As I ate, I noticed his feet were poking out in their usual spot at the top of my belly. We often played a game in which he would poke out his feet and I would push back in on them and he would react by pushing back or moving them. On that night, his feet seemed to be pressing out with more force and they remained that way despite me pushing on them.

At that point, I was getting really worried. I checked the doppler again and his heart still sounded strong. I sat in a chair with my 3 year old son Jaxton on my lap while he was watching YouTube videos. In retrospect he should have been in bed, but I was too worried about the situation at hand to go through our bedtime routine. Usually when Jaxton would sit on my lap and lean against my belly, the baby would squirm or kick in response. My husband Phillip and I always joked it was sibling rivalry starting early. That night, there were no kicks or squirms. I thought I felt a shifting inside of me. I grabbed my doppler, hurriedly rubbed coconut oil on my belly to help it glide, and listened again. Nothing but the sounds of my own body met my ears. At that moment, I truly understood the meaning of deafening silence. My heart raced as I searched and searched, hoping and praying that he was just hiding or that my doppler wasn’t working correctly. I frantically told Phillip we needed to go to the hospital right away. We grabbed our coats, bundled up our son, and rushed out the door. I didn’t say a word the whole way there; I just prayed to God to please let my baby be ok.

At the hospital, they checked me in, asking how far along I was. 35 weeks. After taking my vitals, they told me to have a seat in the waiting room while they paged the OB floor. My son had to use the bathroom, and I remember walking into the bathroom and immediately seeing a penny on tails. My stomach churned with fear and dread. I was wheeled up to the OB floor, changed into a gown, and tried unsuccessfully to remain calm as they strapped a heart monitor to my belly. The nurses adjusted it and readjusted the monitor, but heard nothing. There was a brief glimmer of hope when the nurse said she thought she heard our baby, only to have it crashing down seconds later as she checked and realized she was hearing my racing pulse. She said she had to call a technician to come to the room with a machine so they could take a closer look. I knew things were looking grim at that point. Continue Reading

Finn, Grief, Infant Loss, Stillbirth

2016… In ways I am ready to say good riddance to this year of the worst that has ever happened in my life. Its pain has been like no other. In other ways, I want to cling tightly to the year that brought me one of the best happenings of my life, my second child. This is the year I got to hold my baby, touch him, and kiss him. No other year of my life will ever contain those unique experiences again. In the true nature of time on earth, all lives will eventually come to an end, and so will months and years. I never want to forget the good or the bad. It is true that both shape who we are, and remembering the sorrow heightens the joy in contrast. I can’t carry my son physically into this new year, but I will carry memories of him and grief over him into each and every new year, and that’s ok. Grief is love, and grief is unending because love is unending. He will always be my child and part of me. He will influence my decisions and perspective in every day of every year that comes and brings me closer to being with him again. Tonight I am lucky enough to get to bring in the new year with my amazing hubby Phillip, my lovable little boy Jaxton, and our dear friends. This year certainly has not been void of all happiness, but I do hope and pray for a new year without the traumas of this year, for my little family and everyone else. I know that regardless of what lies ahead, God is with us in every circumstance and it is in Him I put my hope. Wishing you all a new year full of God’s peace and blessings.

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Finn, Grief

I was at the doctor’s office this morning for a post miscarriage HCG check. As I was walking toward the room where we heard Finn’s heartbeat for the first time, “Tears in Heaven” started playing on the radio… there are definitely tears in this Mama’s eyes right now.  I miss our baby boy so much.

Grief, Infant Loss

Every day since Finn died has been an attempt to press on and move forward with my life, throwing my plans out the window and rewriting my story, my “new normal”. I literally had a huge pregnant belly one day and came home the next day without a baby to be greeted by boxes of delivered diapers on my front porch. Reality seems like a dream. I feel like I got off of a plane at the wrong destination, jet-lagged, and I’m wandering around trying to figure out where I am and how to get back to where I was going. The world around me continues and time keeps ticking forward. And as it does, I wander through this strange alternate reality ever aware of those “should-have-been’s”.

Today after work I picked up Jaxton from daycare and he asked to go to a particular park.  Continue Reading

Grief, Infant Loss, Stillbirth

These days I see so many babies being born and who were just born. It’s all so bittersweet for me. I’ve always loved babies and I still do. Ever since Finn died, seeing these babies brings a twinge of sadness followed by a wave of happiness. I see everyone enjoying and even sometimes not enjoying all of the little things their babies are doing, and I wish it could be just the same for me. I don’t begrudge them because their outcome was better than mine. We all wanted the same outcome. I know if they could snap their fingers and make my baby alive and healthy, they would.

The road to having children, especially a second child, wasn’t an easy one for me. Knowing the time it took the first time around, we knew we didn’t have the luxury of scheduling a baby, so we decided to let things happen as they would after Jaxton was born. Except nothing happened. We continued to try on our own for a couple of years with no luck, after which we consulted with a reproductive endocrinologist.

A few months of testing later we had no definitite reason of why were struggling with infertility, but with medical help, we finally had a baby baking. The baby seemed to be healthy and we were road tripping with everyone else and noting the mile markers until we reached our destination, bringing him home. Then, when the destination was finally in sight — BAM, engine failure. Our baby’s body that wasn’t quite so healthy after all failed him, and he died.

Now we are stuck on the side of the road, longingly staring at the destination that is just out of reach, listening to cars zooming by us, watching all the bumpers fading away into the distance as they appoach and then take the exit to that promised land. We get pictures and stories from the people there enjoying their babies … and we want to be there with them.

It’s been a long, long road to having another baby, wrought with frustration, disappointment, and grief unimaginable. Now we press forward, struck down but not destroyed. Right now, that destination, a promised land of sorts for me, is so visible, bright and gleaming, beckoning me to bliss within its limits. It’s hard not to fix my eyes on it. Yet while writing this, God put it on my heart to remember to fix my eyes on what is unseen rather than what is seen, an eternal glory that far outweighs these earthly troubles.

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. – 2 Corinthians 4:8-11

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. – 2 Corinthians 16-18